By Barb Sweet
Ted Lee of St. John’s is one of three finalists in the Princess Auto national Figure it Outer Contest, vying for a prize worth $25,000.
“Sweet,” said Lee Monday when The Telegram told him he is off to a skills completion in Winnipeg later this summer to compete for the top prize, which also includes the chance of being on the cover of the national chain’s 2019 catalogue.
“Wow,” Lee said Monday, adding he’s enjoyed the process.
“Of course, everyone wants to win the prize, but I’ve had a lot of fun with it,” he said.
Lee entered his creation bike backhoe in the contest and was riding it most of the day Monday at his summer home, digging soil and levelling part of his driveway.
“It runs like a dream …. It’s wicked,” he said.
The three finalists will be judged on a set of skills tests when they compete later this summer — they don’t bring their machines with them. The episodes will be posted online in January.
Lee has never visited Manitoba, but has travelled extensively.
“It’s nice to visit all the provinces in Canada,” he said.
The other top three finalists are Jason Cates of Wyoming, Ont., who devised a machine for rolling out bumps from a lawn and Bryan Coughlin of Port Perry, Ont., who created a remote-controlled lawn mower.
The bike backhoe is constructed from various parts, including quad, trike and exercise equipment.
Judges initially broke the several hundred entries down to 19, judging them on criteria such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fabrication, woodworking, welding, uniqueness, safety, ingenuity and quality of submission.
Then there was a public voting process.
The finalists’ prize — $3,000 each — includes their trip to Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg competition will test each finalist’s ability to plan, build and solve a variety of projects.
Lee works in electronic design at Memorial University and was once a fisherman, but describes himself as a life-long tinkerer.